Serving the High Plains

Century later, first Great War not forgotten

Historians estimate more than 115,000 Americans died in the first modern-day Great War we’ve come to call World War I.

That casualty list included about 500 in New Mexico; dozens from our part of the state have been identified as killed in action or dead from wounds, accident or disease.

Sunday, Veterans Day, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Veterans organizations throughout the region are celebrating the end of the first “war to end all wars” with a series of open houses and ceremonies. Clovis’ annual Veterans Day parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday on Main Street.

This week’s festivities are small compared to a century ago.

The Clovis News reported news of the signing of the Armistice reached the region about 2 a.m. on a Monday. Area residents celebrated “by the blowing of whistles and shooting of firearms.”

“November 11th will go down in history as the greatest of all dates save that of the birth of Christ,” the newspaper reported.

“The world has been saved from the masterful dominion of a brute force, and with this victory we witness a marvelous exposition of the wonderful manner in which all things work together for those whose purposes are right.”

The “oldest established paper in Curry County” reported the day “was virtually a holiday.”

“The school children marched through the streets and enough ammunition was shot up to kill a good many Huns, but it was all worth the money and everyone’s countenance carried a genuine smile that told of the happiness that was in his heart.”

This week’s remembrances will be far more tempered. As with all wars, any national jubilation related to victory is overwhelmingly enveloped by personal grief.

An estimated 16 million people died as a direct result of the four-year global war that remains one of the deadliest conflicts in all of history. And that does not include the 50-million-plus people who died worldwide in the 1918 flu epidemic, attributed in part to the mobilization of 60 million Europeans.

The United States’ first Armistice Day was held on Nov. 11, 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a message that read in part:

“To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory …”

In 1954, Congress declared Armistice Day would be Veterans Day, and today we honor all veterans of our nation’s military each Nov. 11.

Please take a moment to remember their sacrifice.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Editor David Stevens and Publisher Rob Langrell.

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